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The Leading Edge November 2013
Small Business Success
Taking Care of Business  

    Contents
In this Issue

10 Ways To Become Inspired (Part 2)

CRA - My Business Account

PowerPoint Versus Prezi (Part 1)

PowerPoint versus Prezi (Part 2)

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THE LEADING EDGE - your monthly link to groundbreaking ideas for entrepreneurs

Apple announces iPad Air.


Small Business News:

Communities in Boom: CFIB releases Canada's Top Entrepreneurial Cities for 2013 - Toronto, October 21, 2013 - Saskatoon and the communities surrounding Calgary (Greater Calgary) are once again the best large Canadian communities in which to run a business, according to the 2013 Communities in Boom report from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB). Read more...


Small businesses support measures in 2013 Throne Speech - Toronto, October 16, 2013 - The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) welcomes several measures announced today in the 2013 Speech from the Throne. Read more...


Small business owners have no regrets: Scotiabank Study - TORONTO, Oct. 22, 2013 /CNW/ - Just over two-in-five (42%) small business owners have no regrets about the actions they took (or did not take) when they first started their company, according to a Scotiabank Small Business Poll. Read more...


Small businesses welcome Canada-E.U. trade deal - Toronto, October 18, 2013 - The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) applauds the federal government for finalizing a free trade agreement with the European Union. Read more...

 
    10 Ways To Become Inspired (Part 2))
 
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Inspiration exists, but it must find you working - Pablo Picasso

Last month we looked at five ways to get inspired and become more creative. This month we finish our top ten with some common sense approaches and a couple of fun things you can do to stimulate those brain cells.

  1. Review old ideas, even ones you or your staff dismissed as being unworkable - this can be a gold mine of money-making ideas. Over time you and your team will have come up with many ideas that got dismissed as being unworkable at the time, but times change; ideas tossed out a few years ago may now give you just the inspiration you need. New ideas are often ahead of their time and get discarded - never be afraid to revisit your idea scrap heap and become re-inspired by old ideas. After all, aren't we always being encouraged to recycle?
  2. Check out successful businesspeople's approach to business - Visit your local bookstore and wander through the business section and dip into several of the books you find there. Don't only look at author's writing about your industry, or a topic that particularly interests you. Seek out a businessperson who has a vision - someone who writes passionately about business and buy that book. When you read it, make notes in the margin every time you read something that could apply to your business, and every time you read something that makes you think about your business. Ideas stimulate ideas - make connections to your business freely and without fear.
  3. Visit www.stumbleupon.com - this site takes you to random Internet websites and pages. Spend ten minutes or so just looking at the sites that come up. Don't be concerned about the quality - if you don't find something interesting then hit the 'Stumble' button and move on to another 'find'. I just visited Stumbleupon and the very first page that I stumbled upon was a list of words of wisdom given to someone by their economics teacher at school some years ago. The first one, of 100, stated, "There are many ways to enter a swimming pool, the stairs are not one of them." That really made me think about the fun of approaching things from non-traditional ways. Inspirational, and it only took a few seconds! Great, I have 99 more to look at and I am sure many will inspire me.
  4. The what, where and when of inspiration - What inspires you? Where are you when you feel most inspired? At what times you feel most inspired? I'm sure that if you think about it for a few seconds you will be able to come up with "the what" that inspires you - perhaps it's certain people such as Mother Theresa, the music of Tchaikovsky or it could even be the contestants on The Biggest Loser television show fighting obesity. Whatever it is, surround yourself with these influences when you need to be inspired about your business. When it comes to "the where" it could be sitting in a church, spending time at your cottage on the lake, or having a massage - think about where it is you feel most relaxed and where inspiration seems to come more easily. Finally, "the when" - I'm a great believer in bio-rhythms and know that at certain times of the day I am a great deal more creative than at others. Don't try to force inspiration at times of the day where mentally you are at a low ebb - schedule brainstorming, or planning sessions at times when you are feeling on top of your game.
  5. Watch TED talks - my last suggestion is huge; if you already know about Ted talks then you don't need me to tell you how inspirational most, if not all, of these presentations can be. If you are looking for a new angle, a new approach for your business, a new way to market what you sell, or just want to top up your creativity and innovation quotient, try listening to a few TEDTalks and you'll never look back. Visit Ted www.ted.com.

Many individuals and websites list their favourite Ted Talks; but this link will take you to a top ten that I wholeheartedly recommend. Watch them and I dare you not to be inspired. http://www.funkmeyers.com/a-guide-to-the-best-10-ted-talks-ever/

 
   
CRA - My Business Account Top

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We all love to complain about government services, but here's one to check out if you want to keep up with your CRA account and even instantly process GST/HST transactions.

My Business Account is a secure online portal provided by Canada Revenue Agency that provides business with an opportunity to interact electronically with the agency on various business accounts. Business accounts include GST/HST (except for GST/HST accounts administered by Revenu Québec), payroll, corporation income taxes, excise taxes, excise duties, and more.

My Business Account is open 21 hours a day, 7 days a week and is quite easy to use. basically all you need to do is register as you would with any other Internet service and thereafter simply log-in with your user name and password.

You can get instant information on your account and process transactions immediately.

My Business Account is a secure and convenient way for businesses to access their CRA accounts on-line and to perform certain transactions. The agency has also introduced a new service standard for certain tax‑related questions that it receives through My Business Account - it will provide a response within 10 business days, on-line and in writing, and stand behind each written reply.

The CRA's new business landing page offers visitors a range of on-line opportunities: to submit an enquiry, ask for a CPP/EI ruling, calculate payroll deductions and corporation installments, file a GST/HST return, make or transfer a payment, and look at electronic messages from the CRA. Businesses can also use My Business Account to view more comprehensive corporate balances on-line.

These changes to the CRA's online services have made it faster and easier for Canadian businesses to do business with the Agency and to meet their compliance obligations. It has also allowed the CRA to streamline its business operations and to reduce red tape. For more information click the following link to "My Business Account".

 
   
PowerPoint Versus Prezi (Part 1) Top
 

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Do you make presentations from time to time? Perhaps you train your staff, do sales presentations to potential clients, or post presentations online? The most common program to use of course is PowerPoint; I don't know about you but I'm bored with it, it's so very predictable.

On the upside PowerPoint is easy to use, easy to learn, and accessible. However, if you are only modestly technically savvy and would like to wow your audience, you might want to take a look at Prezi, www.prezi.com.

What's the difference? Well dear old PowerPoint lets us show slide after slide after slide, one after the other in all their regimented glory, while Prezi is like the whiteboard in your office, or board room, but bigger. Imagine an infinite whiteboard where you can let your ideas roam to their hearts content - where you can add photographs, videos, documents, shapes - anything you want.

By now you may be thinking I'm a Prezi salesman, but rest assured although I am a fan of Prezi, I still use PowerPoint on more occasions than Prezi. Why? Because it's simpler, quicker and easier. But, if I really want to impress a group, or a prospective client then I'll put the extra time in to do a Prezi presentation.

The big difference is that PowerPoint is pretty much a monologue - slides come up and you address each one while the audience reads the bullet points. With Prezi you can move around the unlimited white space at will; if a question arises from something you said a few moments, or an hour previously, all you have to do is zoom out, and then zoom back in to the previous point, image, graphic. The Prezi people say that their program allows for "... conversations: enabling people to see, understand, and remember ideas."

I leave it to them to make their point, "Seeing is believing and a picture can tell a thousand words, but a picture doesn't tell an entire story. A visual story has a flow and narrative, where images and words work together to present an idea or lesson. Use Prezi's open canvas to construct a story arc, where visual context leads the viewer on a path of discovery. To understand complexity, one must zoom out to see the big picture and in to see the details. Prezi's 3-dimensional canvas is a virtual space where you can delve deeper and pan wider to broaden the conversation."

So, what are the pros and cons of these programs? PowerPoint's strengths are: its simplicity; the program is based on your computer; the masses of templates and backgrounds available; the ability to change fonts to anything you have on your computer; all the standard transitions you can use; the ability to link to an external website; the printability of handouts, and Microsoft's insertable charts and graphs from other programs such as Excel.

Check out part two of this comparison between two great presentation tools below.

 
   
PowerPoint versus Prezi (Part 2) Top

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I wouldn't blame you at this point if you were ready to stay with PowerPoint and dismiss Prezi, but don't rush into anything, this is not an either or situation. Let me tell you about Prezi's strengths and you will start to see that it's horses for courses - which program you use will depend on what you want to achieve.

So, let's look at Prezi's strengths. The biggest thing of course is the ability to zoom in and out of any part of your presentation at will. This complete flexibility is very useful and also impressive to those watching. It makes the presentation visually exciting and that in itself is a huge plus point when it comes to keeping an audience's attention. The other thing of course is that you can integrate any media seamlessly into your Prezi presentation in a way you simply can't do easily with PowerPoint.

Another important aspect is Prezi's stability - once you've made it, it's there as a presentation and everything WILL work; unlike PowerPoint where it seems quite often the audio, or video just fails to appear.

If two, or more, people are making a presentation Prezi is without question the way to go, as each presenter can go anywhere they like in the presentation - remember it's not linear! That leads to one final big plus - you can deliver the presentation online to several people at once if the need arises.

Both programs have challenges; PowerPoint is too prescriptive, one is tied into progressive slides making it difficult to go back to a point, or graph, later in the presentation. The other thing is that PowerPoint files can get massive.

With Prezi you are restricted to a fairly small number of starter templates, but in all fairness you can add a whole bunch of elements to make them more exciting. The big downfall of Prezi though is that if you want it for free you have to make all your presentations public, which may not be realistic. For around $60 you can get rid of the Prezi logo, add your own logo, and keep all your presentations private. But, you still can't edit your presentation offline - for that you will need to shell out $159 a year.

One more thing; there is a learning curve with Prezi - it's not hard and their are tutorials, but you will need to make an effort. In my opinion I'd use Prezi for those important pitches and promotional presentations every time - it's so versatile and impressive. Even at the rather steep $159, if you use it to make one important deal-winning presentation, it will have been worth it.

For everyday presentations PowerPoint is still an excellent program, and for Mac users there is always Keynote which offers far more design-forward templates.

Prezi is to impress - PowerPoint is the stalwart.

 
   
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